2018

Wait, Why is Mitt Romney Running for Senate?

So Mitt Romney has finally announced his intention to represent Utah in the U.S. Senate, which for months has been the worst-kept secret in national politics. While there will be a Democratic opponent in the form of Salt Lake City Councilwoman Jenny Wilson, as well as a handful of far-right Republican loons willing to be sacrificial lambs in the competition in the primary season, the actual campaign is a mere formality in his case.

For all intents and purposes, it’s safe to proceed as if the election is over and Senator Romney is now the rallying point for anti-Trump Republicans all across the country.

Certainly that’s how his candidacy has been treated up until this week, when President Trump himself endorsed the man he once derided as a “choke artist” who whiffed an easy contest with Obama back in 2012. Romney had all kinds of similarly nasty things to say about the president, calling him a “fraud” and a “con man” who was “playing members of the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat.”

Mitt Romney has gone from rejecting Trump’s endorsement, to accepting it all over again

That kind of bad blood would suggest that Romney is running as a sort of revenge candidate, which is why, prior to the president’s endorsement, articles were popping up everywhere talking about how Romney was a “misfit for America” or that he “had his chance and failed; time to step aside,” but now that Trump has decided to let bygones be bygones, Romney’s playing nice, too, and so the nasty articles have all but stopped.

They’ve been replaced by a sense of puzzlement as to what it is that Romney actually wants to do.

If Mitt Romney isn’t the Great Mormon Hope who will redeem the nation from the evils of Trumpism, then what, exactly is he? Because the reality is that regardless of his track record, he will enter the Senate as its most junior member, just another freshman Republican, age 71. If he’s not there to make waves or use the time to launch a 2020 bid, then, really, what’s the point?

(Photo of former Governor Mitt Romney speaking with supporters at a campaign rally for U.S. Senator John McCain at Dobson High School in Mesa, Arizona by Gage Skidmore via Flickr)

Jim Bennett

Jim Bennett recently ran for Congress as the first candidate of the newly formed United Utah Party and garnered the largest vote percentage of any third-party congressional candidate in Utah history. A longtime editorial writer and columnist for the Deseret News, he has managed several political campaigns in Utah, and he is currently at work on a biography of his father, former Utah Senator Robert F. Bennett. He and his wife, Laurel, are the parents of five children.

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